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Tour de Causse

Damn, my ears are cold. Freezing fog in the valley, ice forms on the brake levers. Skittery tyres in the corners… pssht, let a little bit of air out. Wheels feel more settled. The cold damp air mutes the clangs of sheep’s bells beyond an elderly stone wall. The fog thins gradually up the hillside, a white disc appears veiled by layers of cloud. Blue sky by the time I reach the village on the edge of the causse. Winter bright. Climb some more, effort and sunlight warms me. Roads undulate atop the limestone plateau. Gnarled trees, moss covered limestone walls. Roads sparkle, hope there’s no black ice hiding beneath, slot into the car tyre tracks. Shadows stretch along slopes. A buzzard every kilometre, crossing unseen territories. A view over the sacred city built under and into the tall cliffs. Down and around and up and down and around gorges carved through the limestone by rivers. Squiggles and giggles. Across the biggest of the rivers, the Dordogne. Trace it’s edge, hugging the cliffs that cascade to its side. A suspension bridge back across the river by the village with the church carved into the rock face. The shadows the other side of the river are still frozen, a world sprinkled with icing sugar. Frosted trees glisten where the sun doesn’t reach this time of year. Half iced branches stretch golden tips into the sun light. It’s pretty but so cold. Turn back across the river at the next bridge, wave to the cycle club in matching kit, on to the flood plain under the weakening sun, it’s warmth fading. Flat straight roads through fields and dog barks. Back home past the sleepers and the jam factory.

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